Frequently Asked Questions on Interest Groups

During the 2003 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, the ALCTS Board of Directors discussed and approved an amendment to the ALCTS Bylaws allowing the creation of Interest Groups (IGs) at both the division and section levels. This amendment will be put to a vote of the entire membership in the spring 2003 ballot. For further information, please check the ALCTS Web site as these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will be expanded as additional questions arise.

Why do we want to create Interest Groups?

Interest Groups are an organizational unit already defined by ALA Policy. Their more flexible structure should allow ALCTS to address timely topics with programs, publications, and discussion important to the membership.

If the changes in the Bylaws are passed by the vote of the membership, what happens to my Discussion Group?

Nothing will happen automatically to any existing Discussion Group. With the passage of the Bylaws enabling the creation of Interest Groups at the division level, the ALCTS Board, through its Organization and Bylaws Committee, will work with Discussion Groups to weigh the advantages/disadvantages of possible changes to their organizational structure. The ALCTS Board will review the structure of Division-level committees charged to carry out the Division's business; committees other than Division business committees may also consider advantages of the IG structure.

The Bylaw text doesn't have many details about what the IGs will look like or how they will work…

The Bylaws texts (one for division-level IGs and another for section-level IGs) are meant only to enable the use of a new organizational unit by ALCTS. As such the Bylaws language is consciously general; specific procedures will be drafted by the Organization and Bylaws Committee for both the initial implementation of IGs and for their on-going life within ALCTS. One model for this work will be the way interest groups have been handled by LITA. (See the LITA Manual, Section 6 ( http://www.lita.org/manual/Intgrp.htm).

Why don't we just change the definition of Discussion Groups?

Discussion Groups are limited in their ability to put on programs at meeting; Interest Groups on the other hand, can sponsor programs and publications. ALA Policy has established the mechanism of IGs (see http://www.ala.org/alaorg/policymanula/committunit.html, Sections 6.10 Discussion Groups and 6.13 Interest Groups) to address the need for 'agile and facile' programming and publications, as well as providing forums for shared discussion.

Tell me again why we are doing this; is it change for the sake of change?

ALCTS has been reviewing its organizational structure from many perspectives; a recurring theme among ALCTS members is the need to be able to respond in a timely fashion to important issues identified at the grass-roots level, including programming and publication. IGs would be a good way to do this.

Why does the Bylaw text require each IG to have a chair but not specify the rest of the IG's structure?

This was done very deliberately. Bylaws language need only have the bare minimum requirement for a group, i.e. a leader and members. We are attempting to keep the bylaws minimal (since any change to them, however minor, requires a vote of the membership) while procedures will be more detailed (and changed with approval of the ALCTS Board of Directors). Once a group is established, it may decide that it needs additional officers to carry out its work. These procedural changes do not need the approval by a vote of the ALCTS membership

How will IGs be included in the ALCTS strategic and tactical plans and review procedures?

Once established, IGs would be included in the ALCTS Strategic Plan with specific goals and tasks. Using the LITA model, IGs would be established with a sunset clause, and action of the IG members will be required for renewal/continuation of the group (time frames to be established in procedures).

If you have questions not covered in these FAQ's, please contact Ann Swartzell, Organization & Bylaws Committee Chair, at a_swartzell@harvard.edu.

These FAQ's will be updated on the ALCTS web site. Please check back frequently for further updates.

back to alcts newsletter online home